Fallout 3: Game of the Year Edition

Fallout 3: Game of the Year Edition

Old news meets new news which means good news

A year ago this month, I had the pleasure of reviewing Bethseda Softworks masterpiece Fallout 3. I had some pretty strong opinions around me that felt betrayed on one side and overjoyed on the other. The betrayal was from Fallout purist who couldn’t let go of their top-down game that came from the 90s.  They made some valid points as to call this the ‘Oblivion’ version of Fallout. They didn’t like the fact that you could roam around basically with no strategy simply doing whatever you want, however you wanted to do it. I could see that side of the coin pretty well as I felt bad for their hunger for something similar to what they loved and cherished.

On the flipside to that coin, I understood that games must move on and change a bit. When you look at such epic series as Mario Brothers (which made the permanent jump from 2D to 3D) or even Metroid (we go from side scrolling masterpiece to FPS shooter), they all had to change to improve.  The creators of Fallout knew this and Bethesda was ready to make that transition possible.  Taking from the betrayed side, this game is incredibly similar to Oblivion; I simply cannot argue that. You earn more power-ups through accomplishments. You can pick up certain skills that help you in one area (such as repairing items that are broke, or medicine). You also have the choice of becoming someone evil or someone good. Not to mention that the game engine, if I remember this correctly, was built from the engine (Havok) that powered Oblivion; then yes they were similar. The question begs, “Is that so bad?” Not at all in this reviewers eyes.

I found Fallout 3 positively refreshing the second time around. The game offers so much to the players; it gives them a sense of survival. Unlike Oblivion, where the world is flush with life and animals, Fallout 3‘s world is quite the opposite. If you want to feel a sense of isolation and desperation then you need not look further than this game. The world is broken and destroyed and those who survived the ‘fallout’ come in a variety of charming individuals:

Vault folk – The game puts you in the body of a privileged individual that was raised in the safety of the vault. You get all the luxuries of a spoiled brat and you have choices that shape your type of character. Ultimately, you’re the cleanest thing to come out of the ground when you first start the game.

Renegades/Survivors – Most of the world is divided into two groups of people: Renegades and Survivors. The Renegades can only described as folks who have taken advantage of the desolation of the D.C. area. They do what they want, when the want and they take whatever they want; no matter the cost.  The survivors are basically the flock that the renegades feed off of. The survivors do their best to survive and do their best not to become slaves or food.

Everything Else – It would take me the rest of this review to describe to you what you are looking at in this category. Simply put, you have zombies, large mutants and a variety of terrible things ready to kill you and eat you. Enjoy that short description because the rest of it gets filled in when you play the game.

While I would love to describe the entire game to you, let me just cut to the chase and talk about the pros and cons of the original version. The best parts of Fallout 3 come out to equal everything you loved and cherished about Oblivion. The leveling is very important, as you’ll need certain attributes to get through a very large world. If you want to start stealing from the get go you’ll want to build your character up in a ‘thief’ type manner. You’ll also want to be good at lock picking, which is extremely vital in the game. The second go around of the game I completely focused on this attribute. What it provided me with is a large amount of weapons and a necessity to kill every living thing that didn’t cooperate. For example, at the beginning of the game you go to a small town called Megaton. This town, which is named for the large atom bomb residing in the middle of the town undetonated, is stocked to the teeth with people and supplies. After spending many hours outside of the town building up my character’s levels and defense, I was able to storm into town with my lock picks by my side collecting weapons and using them promptly. By the end of 45 minutes I had taken every life in the town and every weapon I could carry. Simply put, it was a cruel thing to do, but due to the unkind outside world I had to do what I had to do to survive. The fact that the game will allow you to do something so horrendous is nothing short of the very definition of ‘in-game freedom’. While I have no grudge against the people of Megaton, I was just doing what I could to progress the story. Speaking of which, the story is affected by the decisions you make in the game. As another example, while going on a rampage in Megaton, I was approached by a shady character that wanted me to detonate the bomb in the middle of town. He would pay me handsomely if I did this. If you choose to this then you lose everything that Megaton had to offer for the ‘taking’. If you choose to turn the guy in, he’ll murder the sheriff of the town and get away. If you take him out yourself then no one hates you for it and you get to take his fancy gun and clothes.  There are many instances in the game where this happens and what you choose affects the storyline.

Another great part of the game is the world you’re residing in. Sure you’re mainly in the D.C. area (again, we are talking about the original game), but the landscape that Bethesda has built for you is of a large scale. In some respects it’s much bigger than Oblivion‘s world. You have above ground and below ground stages. The belowground stages mainly reside in subways, but are long and deep (twss). The size and scope of the world makes it even bleaker of an atmosphere. When you have such a barren atmosphere to deal with you really get into the motif of the game.

I could go on forever about how great this game plays. I need to even it out here with some complaints.

The first and most annoying part of Fallout 3 is the programming flaws that reside in the game. Occasionally, you’ll find your game freeze once or twice. I remember this happening the first time around and it hasn’t been corrected the second time. This is a major flaw because console games simply don’t do this sort of thing (unless you’re on an Xbox 360 then you do that 54% of the time according to a reside article — that’s the 360, not the game though). When I was playing in the DLC Point Lookout, after taking out some deformed hicks, I found my game froze for absolutely no reason. I had to restart the game from my last save point, which made me the ‘save king’ as I was saving my game constantly. I saved so many games that I had to select a saved game to overwrite (that’s a lot of games saved). The glitches don’t come in as ‘frozen’ screens either, as there were a few times in various scenes where dead bodies would suddenly fall to the ground. While this scared the crap out of me more than it annoyed me, it still is a glitch that should have been taken care of by now. Anyway, the other parts of the game really are nearly perfect; these were my only complaints.

Game of the Year Edition? Are you sure?

Oh, yeah. Bethesda is right. This is the ‘Game of the Year Edition’. This edition of the game is epic without the additional downloadable content (DLC). Thanks to Bethesda’s kind heart, they have priced all the DLC with the original game at $59.99. Is it worth it? Absolutely. For the gamer who has never played Fallout 3 this is the way to go. What I particularly loved about this edition is how seamless the DLC was added to the original game. You don’t simply go in and say, “I want to go to Point Lookout.” It doesn’t work that way. When you insert the game, even if you have saved files from the previous version, the DLC is instantly added to your world. You read that right, it’s put on the original Fallout world like Legos would attach with each other. It’s completely seamless and truly one of the more impressive ways to make the DLC feel like it has been there since day one.

You’ll have to travel across the wasteland of D.C. to get to your DLC, which is labeled on the map. Want to go to Point Lookout? You’ll have to make it to the docks to find a ship that will take you there. The steamboat is docked on the outskirts of downtown D.C. and looks as if it has always been there. It’s impressive to think that they could just code this DLC right in to the game, but they did and it works out beautifully. Another example, when you want to go visit Mothership Zeta (which is where aliens have landed), you have to go through Germantown to get to the crash site. Once there it’s completely flawless in how it fits to the story. It’s a neat getaway from the desolate world of the original game, but it works beautifully when you’re transitioning to it. Speaking of transitions, let’s get back to Point Lookout.

Point Lookout is a unique creation of its own. While I would love to think it’s modeled after the backwoods of Kentucky, I’d rather say it looks like something out of West Virginia or rather Deliverance. A swampy, big area where you can collect unique items, such as a double-barrelled shotgun. What’s even more impressive about this DLC is that you can collect these items and bring them back into the original world of Fallout. That’s simply another example of seamless transitioning from one new world back into the old world. Another example of this is in Mothership Zeta. You’ll fight and kill aliens, collect their nice alien weaponry, and strange food and medicine, and bring it back to the original world. Going a step further with both these examples, inside these neat new worlds are missions that affect your main story gaming. In Point Lookout you’re asked to find a missing child for a woman. In Zeta you’re helping renegades get out of a spaceship before they’re killed (along with you). These are all subplot storylines, but they fit and affect you in the original world.

So, all the hours you have spent with the original game you can now add-on to that total with these new DLC titles. You’re looking at some major hours here. The best part about this game is that it can satisfy two types of gamers: the gamers that previously owned Fallout 3 and the gamers who have yet to experience it. For those of you who have this game already you can simply download the DLC to your system via PSN or XBL. For those lucky ducks that haven’t experienced this yet Bethesda has made this a steal of a deal with a $59.99 price point. You get the game and the DLC for that price, which is just a breathtaking thing to say or type (sigh).

Here is the list of DLC for Fallout 3:

Operation: Anchorage – Good stuff, will let you find out what that is about.

The Pitt – It’s good to see Pittsburgh treated so well (go Browns!). Slaves vs. Raiders in this one.

Broken Steel – One of the more epic DLC included in this package. You’ll need some major leveling and a heart of steel.

Point Lookout – Too close to home when it comes to deformed hicks and moonshine making folks. Good stuff, great weapons.

Mothership Zeta – If there is anything that makes you feel trapped in this game it would be this DLC. It’s tough as nails and interesting as hell. You versus aliens; no whiny marines included.